Update February 7 2019:
The former workers of Foote Mineral are BY LAW eligible for compensation under the EEOICPA. Until Washington does the right thing by these workers, this information is staying right here.
The Limestone Mine in Duffield Virginia
Back in 1952, Foote Mineral picked Sunbright, Virginia (a community very close to Duffield) to build the world’s largest lithium plant. One of the main reasons this location was chosen was due to the large reserves of high grade limestone located on site. Spodumene ore was shipped in from Kings Mountain, North Carolina, mixed with the limestone, and subjected to a chemical process in order to extract the lithium from the spodumene.
The limestone was mined using the room and pillar method. The result was large underground rooms that stretched for a reported 20 some miles. The temperature, being 200 feet underground, was a constant 55 degrees. One day, miners blasted into a cavern that contained a huge waterfall. This cavern was actually a back entrance into the mine at one time. Sediment buildup from running water has since reportedly made the connecting passageway too small to pass.
Allegheny Construction’s role at the former Foote Mineral site
Some time after Foote and its following successors left the Sunbright plant in Duffield, a company called Allegheny Construction stepped in and indicated their intent to reopen the limestone mining operations portion of the now abandoned property. (1) The limestone mining operations never materialized. But the name of one of Allegheny’s Construction’s chief company officers caught my eye: George Foresman.
George Foresman: A tangled web of D.o.D.contracting companies he does weave
George Foresman became the former Under Secretary of Preparedness at the Department of Homeland Security in 2005, then became the Under Secretary for National Protection and Programs at Homeland Security until he left in 2007, coincidentally the same year Allegheny Construction received their $6.83 million for an undisclosed facilities project.
(Other companies in which Foresman is involved: he is president of Highland Risk & Crisis Solutions, “a firm that assists corporations and government organizations in understanding and mitigating homeland and national security risks, both domestically and internationally.” (5) He is Director of Rivada Networks, LLC, another DoD contracting company. (6) He is also a member of the Strategic Advisory Group at Durango Group, LLC, a Colorado defense consulting firm where retired officers are “handsomely paid…to help private companies win and administer Pentagon contracts.”(8)
I ran into the caretaker of the abandoned Foote property a few months ago. My friend who I was with, mentioned to the caretaker that I would like to take a tour of the limestone mine. The caretaker said I needed to talk to George Foresman of Allegheny Construction.
Allegheny Construction is located at this address:
There are two other companies also found at 2830 Nicholas Ave in Roanoke, Virginia:
Secure Mountain, LLC
and Sunbright Land Company, LLC.
This is going to get messy. But stay with me.
In 2007, Allegheny Construction “announces the company will invest $8 million in a Scott County site and plant and extract high-calcium limestone.” (1)
Interestingly, I found a 2006 report where the Department of the Army allocated $6.83 million to Allegheny Construction for “maintenance, repair or alteration of other conservation and development facilities.” (2) Was this money used to retrofit the limestone mine at Duffield for an underground government data center? We do know they never reopened mining operations like they implied.
Who really owns the old Foote Mineral property?
Which brings us to the Sunbright Land Company. Scott County, Virginia property records indicate that Sunbright Land Company bought the former Foote Mineral plant site and limestone mine on September 25, 2009.
Remember, Sunbright Land Company is also located at the same address as Allegheny Construction, and Secure Mountain: 2830 Nicholas Avenue, Roanoke Virginia.
Secure Mountain, LLC
Secure Mountain’s website states their underground data center is “formerly a limestone mine and Civil Defense relocation site”, “is optimally located in the mountains of western Virginia” and “encompasses 166 acres above ground, with 900,000 square feet (and 21 million cubic feet) of partitioned subsurface engineered space cut more than 1,200 feet back and protected by more than 200 feet of solid rock cover.”(4)
This article is from the Kingsport Times, 1964.
This November 2012 Kingsport Times News article, “Scott supervisors approve permit for data center in Duffield” states:
“…supervisors voted unanimously to award Roanoke-based Secure Mountain, LLC a special use business permit that would allow the company to convert the former Foote Mineral Co. Mine into a data storage facility.” (3)
I have much more information to share about this underground facility in Duffield Virginia, and will do so in future posts.
(1) Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority, 2007 Annual Report. http://leg2.state.va.us/dls/h&sdocs.nsf/By+Year/RD1112008/$file/RD111.pdf
(2) insidegov.com. http://government-contracts.insidegov.com/l/8934847/W912HN06C0052
(3) “Scott supervisors approve permit for data center in Duffield.” Kingsport Times News. November 7, 2012.
(4) Secure Mountain LLC’s website: http://securemountain.com/index.php
(5) George Foresman biography, Capstone. National Defense University, Department of Defense.
(6) Rivada Networks website:
(8) “Colo. firm employs most retired officers from mentor program.” Dec. 29, 2009.